Byxbee Park

The Palo Alto Public Art Commission hopes that Byxbee Park contributes to a new way of thinking about what public art can be and how it can function in a society as an approach to solving problems, a source of inspiration and contemplation, and as a catalyst for new ideas and unique experiences.

Byxbee Park is an environment that is a wonderful place to enjoy nature, and a place where one can reflect upon the interweaving of nature with the imagination and creativity of people, thereby, appreciating more profoundly the wonder and value of both.

History, Purpose, & Design

Byxbee Park is an exciting example of the art of the 1990's, indeed of the next century. In its solution of environmental and engineering problems through an overall aesthetic concept, it is thoroughly contemporary. At the same time, it is important to see Byxbee Park in the broader context of art history.

There is a direct line from the Mound Builders of the Bronze Age, the creators of Stonehenge in England, the builders of the Pyramids in ancient Egypt, and the architects and sculptors of the Classical Period to the designers of Byxbee Park. Throughout time, there have been artists, city planners, and landscape architects whose approach was on a grand scale: visionary, yet rooted in their societies.

More recently, since the 1960's, there have been artists who sculpted the earth and used nature as their medium. Their art expresses a particular sites unique physical and historical characteristics, and a reaffirmation of oneness with nature and natural forces. Conceptually oriented artists such as Christo, combine these ideas with an interest in process to make art which is often in touch with socio-political concerns. In addition, this type of art invites the active participation of the viewer, as, for example, at the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Byxbee Park reflects all of these approaches to art-making: earthworks, site-specific sculpture, conceptual art, and art which involves the viewer. More particularly, it is a fine example of environmental art as described in the following quotations from Art News.

All over the world artists are focusing on environmental problems. The earth is their canvas and their philosophy is "It's dirty. Let's clean it up." Artists are planting trees, redesigning landfills, protesting the killing of whales...filtering pollutants from the water. Artists could not have-imagined a few decades ago that they'd now be gathering garbage in Japan and creating wildlife habitats in England.

Art encompasses more than traditional painting or sculpture. Especially with reference to Public Art, works of art have, indeed, come off the wall, out of the gallery, and into the world, not only in the sense of their location, but, in a deeper sense, in the way they mesh with society and address its concerns.

Design Team

Mary Margaret Jones, Principal, Hargreaves Landscape Architects and Planners.

George Hargreaves, Principal, Hargreaves Landscape Architects and Planners.

Peter Geraghty, Associate, Hargreaves Landscape Architects and Planners.

Peter Richards, Artist.

Michael Oppenheimer, Artist.

John Fletcher Byxbee (1878-1947), Palo Alto City Engineer, was first to recommend development of the Baylands as a public park.


2375 Embarcadero Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303  View Map

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